August 22, 2012

Whistleblower Protections Expanded to Ensure Every Chicagoan Can Report Misconduct Without Fear of Retaliation

First Major City in the U.S. to Extend Protections to Cover Residents, Contractors and Elected Officials

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO- Mayor Emanuel will introduce an amendment to the city’s ethics ordinance that will make Chicago the first major city in the nation to extend whistleblower protections to cover any individual who reports misconduct or unlawful behavior committed by a City employee, official, or contractor. 

“This new ethics reform will ensure that all individuals will be protected for reporting a violation of the law or providing information in an investigation or hearing,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We have significantly strengthened Chicago’s ethics regulations, closed loopholes and enhanced penalties for those public servants who break ethics laws and we will continue to enhance the City’s ethics rules to create a culture of ethics and accountability throughout City government.”

The amendment will protect individuals, City contractors, elected officials, and job applicants from retaliatory action taken against them as a result of disclosing or threatening to disclose unlawful conduct or violations of the law, or providing information in an investigation or hearing.

Residents who are the victims of retaliation may be able to recover damages that they show directly resulted from the retaliation, including litigation costs and reasonable attorney's fees. In addition, if individuals have been denied any city application, such as for a permit or license, as a result of retaliation, they may have their applications reconsidered and reviewed. City contractors who are the victims of retaliation may be entitled to have the contract selection process repeated if the contract has not yet been awarded.

In the last round of ethics reforms that passed council on July 25th, City Council incorporated whistleblower protections for the first time into the ethics ordinance, but that protection only extended to full- and part-time City employees.

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